Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fifty States of Pray with Mini-Alex

Fifty States of Pray, hosted by Mark Koopmans.

For those who are hurting.
For those feeling lost and sad.
For those seeking answers.
For those who have lost faith.

May you find your peace this Christmas.

“For to us a child is born…” Isaiah 9:6

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life...” John 3:16

Christmas blessings to all and Happy New Year! 



And congratulations to Hilary Melton-Butcher who won eBook copies of my books for Milo James Fowler’s Tis More Blessed event.

See you on January 6, 2014! 

And if you are reading this after Christmas, what presents did you get?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Science Fiction Guitars and The Hobbit Movie Review! Plus What Works Online Marketing Symposium, CassaStorm News, Tis More Blessed Giveaway, and Ninja News

‘Twas the last post before Christmas Eve and it threatened to explode…

Science Fiction Guitars!

Yes, you read that right! I found an article on Blastr with some AWESOME science fiction guitars. Prepare to drool…

Movie Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The journey continues as the party travels through Mirkwood and finally reaches Lonely Mountain.
As with LOTR, there is no saggy middle here. This instalment is a roller coaster ride, with the party encountering orcs, spiders, wood elves, men, and finally, Smaug. The best scenes include escaping the elves in barrels (also the funniest) and the encounter with Smaug, which is just stunning. We meet some new characters and are reunited with Legolas.
Jackson weaves in many things that will eventually lead to LOTR sixty years later, including a whole subplot with Gandolf that reveals the real evil behind what is happening.
And (warning/spoiler) the ending is a BIG cliffhanger! My wife literally cried out NO! when it ended.
Highly recommended!

There were also several previews – Nolan’s Interstellar, Edge of Tomorrow, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Godzilla.
While watching them, I realized that the Internet is a big negative sometimes. Online, we knew it was the teaser for Godzilla. But sitting in that theater, there was no clue until the end. People who hadn’t seen it online got the full impact, the big Wow, it’s Godzilla!! It’s a shame the Internet has ruined the surprise for us now.
That said, seeing that teaser on the big screen was SO much better than online!

Special CassaStorm Update

Last spring, Kimberly Gabriel at Art of Infiltration asked if her middle school classes could interview me. It was a lot of fun, and we just did it again for her current classes with CassaStorm. The students’ questions were really thoughtful and genuine, and I tried to respond in kind. This is the email I got from Kimberly:

They LOVED your interview. They said you seemed very genuine. Both of my classes said they "felt like they knew you" after reading your answers. We had a great discussion about your answer regarding themes and symbolism in books and whether authors deliberately create them. We also talked quite a bit about reading outside of your genre.

I can't thank you enough for answering their questions!! They also loved the bookmarks! Thank you for those too!

My writers really liked your advice to write what you want to read too.

Kimberly

Thanks again, Kimberly!

Tis More Blessed

Hosted by Milo James Fowler at In Media Res! Check out his site for other participants.

It’s every Friday in December, but I am being a rebel and participating today.

I’m giving away a physical copy of CassaStorm, along with some swag. (If you live outside the USA, you win all three of my books in eBook.) Comment to win.

Open through December 20!

Ninja News

The Fussy Librarian featured CassaStorm on Sunday in their recommendation email. If you haven’t signed up for their service yet, visit their website.

LG Keltner is celebrating two years of blogging by hosting the Endings Blogfest on January 9 – see her site for details.

Susan Oloier’s Haunted comes out December 17 – congratulations, Susan!

Michael Abayomi’s The Morning Star, a prelude to Guardians and The Lost Paradise, is available at Amazon now. Congratulations, Michael!

The second book in Jack Lewis Baillot’s series is out – Abolished Impracticality. Congratulations, Jack!












Ali Cross revealed the cover for her upcoming book, Blood Crown.

Can’t wait to read it, Ali!





What Works – Online Marketing Symposium

The first ever "Online Marketing Symposium" Monday, January 20, 2014. A blogfest with information you can use!

Hosted by Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins, and Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Do you ever wonder why some books become bestsellers while others can barely be given away? Why some businesses succeed and others fail? How does a blog post or a YouTube video manage to go viral? Is it a matter of luck or is there some magic formula for success?

Well, now maybe we can latch on to some of the secrets and tricks that make success happen or what we might want to avoid. We want you to tell us your stories of success (or not so successful) as we present a blogging event that will help us learn.

On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!

The What Works.. Marketing Symposium is not limited to authors but also to anyone in a business that has a promotional aspect – online or otherwise!

It's possible the blogging community can help you make that next project a viral success or that next book a best seller!

Join our first ever Online Marketing Symposium – sign up below!



Want one of those guitars? Did you see The Hobbit? Want to win a book? And what marketing tip can you offer…?

My last post this year will be for Mark Koopman’s Fifty States of Pray on Christmas Eve. Mini-Alex might even be part of the celebrations…

Monday, December 9, 2013

Star Trek Christmas Gifts, IWSG Update, CheersFest 2.0, and Ninja News!

Gifts for the Star Trek Geek

From Vinport - Star Trek Wine

From Pop Sugar - Mr. Potato Head

From Think Geek - Enterprise Pizza Cutter

From Amazon - Obsessed with Star Trek trivia book

From Know Gifts - Star Trek Shower Curtain Set



You are now free to shop the Internet...
IWSG News and Updates

Thanks for another awesome IWSG day last week!

Please note I do cull the list and remove those who haven’t posted in two months. However, the list is so big, that even with co-hosts, I miss blogs. (Sorry, I’ve just not found a way to visit all of them yet!) If you are removed from the list, you can rejoin at any time.

There are a lot of people posting who are NOT on the list! Please take a moment to make sure your blog is on the list. You’ll get so much more out of it if people can find you.

I am also in need of co-hosts next year. If you can co-host on January 8, February 5, or March 5, let me know in the comments.

And here’s a little tip on what NOT to do on IWSG day. Don’t click on the Mark all as Read check instead of the Refresh button in Feedly first thing in the morning. Yeah, I did that. Crap! So if I missed any of my blogger buddies (because of course it was THAT folder) I apologize.

Don’t forget the amazing contest going on at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to everyone who has entered and helped spread the word about the website and group. (You know who you are and you rock!)

Ninja News

The awesome Pat Hatt at It’s Rhyme Time hit 1000 posts and is hosting a giveaway – and it’s one hundred dollars! Visit his site for details. Congratulations, Pat!

The amazing Elizabeth S. Craig has another cozy mystery out now - Quilt Trip. It’s third of the Southern Quilting Mysteries and you can find it everywhere retail, including Amazon. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Heather Gardner at Waiting is the Hardest Part is featuring a Pay it Forward Book List. Many of you have already been suggested, and you can in turn suggest a book. Check it out!

Available today!
Diamonds and Dust by River Fairchild
Book 1 of the Jewels of Chandra series

Magic is real. So is betrayal.
Two heirs. A Kingdom of dust on a troubled world. One might resurrect it. One might destroy it all.

Available at: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes

Find River: Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon

And I won the Dr. Who caption contest at The Geek Twins!

CheersFest 2.0! 

Hosted by Mark “Madman” Koopmans, Alex “Clone me a” Cavanaugh, Morg “the Borg” Shamy, Stephen “Wormhole” Tremp, and David “Don’t Mess with the” King.

CheersFest kicked off last year with the roasting of ME. (It was also known as AlexFest and The Day the Ninja Died. Fortunately, I lived.)

This year, we are celebrating the man of the hour, or rather the alphabet, Arlee Bird (Lee) of Tossing it Out!

In order to proper cheer (or roast) Lee:

Four questions for you to answer - keep the retorts short – (no longer than 20 words each):

Why did Lee come up with the A-Z Challenge?
As a child, he was obsessed with Alphabet Soup.

If someone dreams about being a juggler, what does it mean?
I’m not a professional dream interpreter, but I hope it has nothing to do with balls…

Is a post by Mr. Bird worth two in the bush?
Yes, it’s worth two turtledoves in the bush and a partridge in a pear tree!

Who could play Lee in a documentary? (Living or dead.)
Combine the intensity of Tommy Lee Jones, the quiet composure of Paul Newman, and the juggling skill of Ghandi and you got it!

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts:
Bird, Juggler, Challenge, Brown Jacket, Tossing

Noir

Through the smoke filled room, Veteran cop Lee saw the juggler sprawled on the ground. Beaten to death by bowling pin. Not a pretty sight.

And now he had to question the suspects - three colorful birds who were part of the act. Reaching into his brown jacket, he pulled out a notepad.

“Why?” said Lee.

The largest bird ruffled his feathers. “He wanted to change the act and I challenged him. Tossing us around like beanbags could kill us.”

“So you killed him first, Sam?”

“That’s right. Toucan play at that game.”

For Bonus Points:
In +/- 40 words, can you come up with a caption for Lee’s Facebook picture? 


“If I crinkle my velour jacket just right, it spells out HELP ME.”


As usual, the Very Demanding Rules of CheersFest include:
Join the Linky List *below*
Have fun
Post your 200 (total) word contribution ON Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
No, seriously. Have Fun!

Two winners – chosen by Lee – will each win a prize:
An autographed color photo of Arlee Bird appearing as the Court Wizard in the World of Fantasy Players. Also included in the first prize pack are an assortment of promotional materials from Lee’s show biz days with a personal letter and a brief history of his entertainment career.
A personalized graphics design from Jeremy at Being Retro for the winner’s blog. (Jeremy will design a header, badge, button, banner, or whatever might appeal to the winner.) 

Join the fun below!



See any Star Trek gifts you’d like? Enjoy the IWSG last week? Enter the contest? See any good books? And what fine words would you use to describe this year’s CheersFest roastee, Lee?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writer’s Support Group and Contest! Plus Gifts for Your Geek, Dream Destination Blog Hop, and Ninja News

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is also holding a contest! Visit today for details – lots of great giveaways.

My awesome co-hosts today are Julie Flanders, Heather Gardner, Kim Van Sickler, and Elsie is Writing. Please be sure to thank them for their time and effort to make all IWSG members feel welcome.

I’m in the process of revising my outline yet again. (Yes, I take longer on the outline than I ever do writing the book.) One of my test readers read through it, had some questions, and offered some ideas. So I’m working on details and making some changes. I’ll probably do this several more times and maybe run the outline past one of my critique partners before I get to a place where I am happy with the storyline.

I still won’t be ready to start writing it though, because next will be research and world building. And a tremendous amount of both!

To make this story work, I’m going to have to do a lot of world building, and far more than I’ve ever done in the past. With the elements I’m including in the story, the world building will have to be on every level. I’m going to have to research sea kelp. Sea kelp! (Yes, sea kelp in a space opera – I have you intrigued now, don’t I?)

What started as a simple idea has grown into a complex beast. I wasn’t even going to write another book. Now I’ve gone and tackled a monster. Not sure what I was thinking. Not sure I’m prepared to handle this either.

Anyone else ever do this to himself?

And any sea kelp experts out there? I’ll let you use the cloning machine in exchange…


Geeky Gifts!

If you’re still looking for that certain gift for the special geek in your life, or for yourself, check out a site called Geek Alerts.

Here is a sampling:

Firefly Serenity Spaceship Ornament available from Entertainment Earth for $9.98.
I’ll take ten, thanks!

The Walking Dead Daryl Crossbow Coffee Mug $27.99 from Amazon.

Dr Who Cybernetics Kit at Firebox for £24.99 with free delivery.

This one came from Uncommon Goods, and I instantly thought of Tina at Life is Good because the Engineer could probably make it:

Mason Jar Speaker-Amplifier This speaker-in-a-jar is completely self-contained, so you can bring it on-the-go with you for impromptu dance parties, and can hook it up to your personal music player or electronic instrument. Its size is small but its sound is big. $65.00

Ninja News

Toi Thomas’ book, Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel, comes out on February 18, 2014. There is a giveaway and a pre-order special though, so check it out. Congratulations, Toi!

The next installment of Hart Johnson’s series is now available – Travel Plans. Congratulations, Hart!

Kelly Polark’s latest, Hold the Mustard, is now available. Congratulations, Kelly!





Dream Destination Blog Hop

Lexa Cain and Julie Flanders are hosting the Dream Destination Blog Hop December 5-8. Since I won’t be posting again until December 9, here is my entry.

If I could go anywhere in the world, where would I go?

New Zealand!

The country is stunningly beautiful. The scenery offers an amazing variety, especially considering the size of the two islands. And no poisonous snakes or spiders! Big plus in my book. Lord of the Rings was filmed there, and I confess I’d also want to see all the film locations.

Of course, if I could go somewhere that wasn’t real, I’d visit the Cassan universe. Why? One word – teleportation! Yes, I’d need a Cassan to accompany me and do all the jumping, but it would be awesome.

All right, I’m waiting – teleport me on over!

Excited about the new books? See a geeky gift you want? Anyone else tackling a project that just might be too massive? And where is your dream destination...?

Be sure to check the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the contest and to visit other participants!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Frozen Movie Review and December Movie Preview!! Plus Curiosity Quills and the IWSG, and Some Awesome Ninja News.

I was asked to do an article about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group for Curiosity Quills! It’s up today at their website.

Movie Review

Frozen
Inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Frozen is the story of two princess sisters, Anna and Elsa. When Else’s secret powers plunge their kingdom into an eternal winter and she runs away, Anna sets off to find her and make things right.
This is a very sweet story, genuine and innocent. It’s not an epic story, but it’s really enjoyable to watch.
The animation is stunning, especially in 3D. The frozen ice is incredible. (And my wife now wants an ice castle.)
The strength of the story lies with the sisters, especially Anna. She is a true heroine. She’s also a combination of resourceful awkwardness, which makes for some humorous situations.
Olaf the snowman is a riot. Most of the humor comes from his optimistic sweetness and desire to experience summer. Sven the reindeer is also funny.
If you’re looking for a sweet story about love and family devotion, wrapped up with amazing animation and great humor, then this is your film. Highly recommended.

Ninja News

Roland Yeomans is this month’s featured Challenge participant at the A to Z Blog. His theme was “Words of Wisdom for Writers,” so check it out.

Those of you signed up with The Fussy Librarian - CassaStar is the featured science fiction book for Tuesday this week!

Cassie Mae’s Switched is out today – congratulations, Cassie!

CD Coffelt’s prequel to Wilder Mage, Out of Magic, is available for free on Tuesday, December 3.



Created by Pat Hatt of It’s Rhyme Time have been working on a project - Translate Your eBook. It’s really awesome, so visit his SITE for details.


Sean McLachlan is looking for beta readers for his next novel. Radio Hope is a post-apocalyptic thriller, sans zombies, and it comes out February 1. Details HERE. Also, check out his "How Can I Help You?" page for some cool stuff he offers.

Nutschell at The Writing Nut is raising money two ways to help the typhoon victims back home in the Philippines:
1. CBW-LA.ORG, my nonprofit group, is donating 50% of its book sales (for STORY SPROUTS: CBW-LA WRITING DAY EXERCISES & ANTHOLOGY) from Nov. 2013 to the end of Jan. 2014. Find it on Amazon HERE.
2. Doce Pares L.A., my Filipino martial arts group is raising money through the Payong Drive campaign. Basically they are selling shirts for $20 each. Up to Dec.15, if you have other friends/relatives interested in supporting our fund drive, send the number of shirts and sizes (Small up to 3XL) to: LADocePares@yahoo.com (Sizing Chart) You can make checks payable to "Erwin Mosqueda" or via Paypal: PayongFundDrive@gmail.com Local U.S. shipping and handling will be free (except Hawaii, Alaska & Puerto Rico).

David List has started a Kickstarter project for his upcoming novel, A Sawmill’s Hope:

Visit Kickstarter HERE for more information and to contribute. Good luck, David!

CheersFest 2.0 is one week away on December 9! We are roasting Lee ‘Arlee Bird’ of Tossing it Out.

The next posting for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is this Wednesday.

There will also be a cool contest with some awesome prizes announced at the IWSG Website on Wednesday, so don’t miss it! 

December Movies

Here are the upcoming movies for December! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snarky comments by me.

6 –

Out of the Furnace
When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement fails to follow through, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.
Director: Scott Cooper
Stars: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson
It’s Christian Bale month – he also stars in American Hustle, coming out on December 20.

10 – DVD – Despicable Me II

13 –

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars:Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch
Despite the haters, I still thought the first installment was amazing and can’t wait for this one. Bring on Smaug!

20 –

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
With the 70s behind him, San Diego's top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy, returns to take New York's first 24-hour news channel by storm.
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell
The first one really wasn’t the funny, but I give them credit for hyping this one to the max.

Saving Mr. Banks
Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson
Sappy, sentimental, and feisty – one heck of combination. Sure it will be really good as well.

25 –

47 Ronin
A band of samurai set out to avenge the death and dishonor of their master at the hands of a ruthless shogun.
Director: Carl Rinsch
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kô Shibasaki, Tadanobu Asano
Looks amazing. Now if I can just get Ted Theodore Logan out of my head…


Did everyone have a great Thanksgiving? Did you see Frozen? Anything in the Ninja News catch your eye? Ready for the IWSG post this week? And what movies are looking forward to in December?

Don’t forget to visit Curiosity Quills!